Time reminds me to not take things for granted, to appreciate every single moment a bit more, and to smile and laugh even more often. If I have to choose between time and money, I would definitely choose time. I think that in my 20s, time is the most valuable asset that I have and hence I need to treasure every second passing by and to make the most out of it. Because time is so precious, having to figure out what to do with time can be quite stressful. Time has given me worthwhile memories and experience but also has given me more thoughts and confusion as I struggle to think about where and how I should be spending my time in the next months of freedom.
Graduated from college just about a month ago, I have planned so little for the summer. I wanted to indulge in this precious opportunity to have complete freedom to do things as I want, to follow my own feelings, to wake up one day not feeling bound by responsibilities or a fixed plan that I need to motivate myself to pursue. Yet simultaneously, this lack of planning has also made me struggle thinking about what is next. I developed anxiety over not having a clear purpose or goal I wanted to pursue for the next 2,3 months before starting to work. I felt worried that I am wasting time and wasting this rare opportunity of doing whatever I want. To a greater extent, I felt fearful that I will live a life without a clear purpose to make me feel excited and fulfilled.
Most of my friends returned home after graduation. Hence I also thought about returning home. Yet, I don’t know what being at home truly means and whether I would be able to find that feeling some day in some place out there. While I might have a clear answer to where I have spent my time in the past 22 years, I have no clear answer for where I would call home among all the places I have been to. Roaming around from one city to another to travel, intern, hang out with friends, or to work on various service projects has paradoxically made me feel more attached to new places but also more removed from places in general. Wherever I go I usually see a temporary lodging (whether it is Airbnb, hotel, hostel, or a friend’s house), a foreign land, and perhaps a few people I know who make me feel more comfortable and belonged to the place.
When I asked where home is for some people, the answer lies in the people. Perhaps it’s a place where the people they love are, where their family is, where their closest friends are, etc. This is probably true for some people. Yet, for me, there are several cities where I can find friends whom I would thoroughly enjoy hang out with or where I can spend comfortable time with my parents. For the places where I can find a community of friends, I would still feel lost and temporary as I have to move from one friend’s place to another. For the place where I can be with my parents however long I want, the town is too small and laid-back for me to find fitting activities to engage in. I am also afraid of dependence — depending on people too much and not leaving them enough space to be on their own, or depending on my parents too much to be an independent adult.
I wonder if I can ever find a home for myself. I wonder if home even exists. I question if home can just be temporary rather than permanent. I wonder if home needs to be a physical place or if it is hidden behind the people… or is completely something else that I’m missing.
The past month has been a month of wandering for me, from Boston to NYC to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and 10+ cities in Vietnam. I probably have passed by 15 cities or so in one month. I felt enthusiastic, excited, and curious to explore new places everyday and to looked forward to what’s next. Yet I also felt lost, tired, a bit overwhelmed by the necessity of constantly having to interact with people, befriending strangers, and seeing new things without having enough time to absorb and reflect on past things that I have seen.
I think that perhaps home is not really a place or a person but is just an accumulation of various moments….moments when I feel safe and excited and fulfilled and loved and belonged.
These moments can take place in a strange place where I feel warm at heart just because of the people who are there with me.
These moments can be short encounters with strangers who pour their hearts and souls into creating meaningful conversations that make me feel inspired and happy for being there to listen.
These moments can be fond memories of the people who have passed by my life in the past, who have shared with me thought-provoking perspectives and stories that have transformed or influenced me in some way.
These moments can be embedded in texts, messages, and Skype calls with people who are few steps or one hemisphere away from where I am.
Perhaps, home is just moments that I can build wherever I go, with the people near and far from me, wherever they maybe. Perhaps for this summer, instead of trying to figure out the feeling of being at home or finding a physical place where I can call home to travel to, I should focus on building enriching experiences and creating memorable moments wherever I will be, because these moments would make me feel happiest and most fulfilled. Perhaps, home is just a series of moments that I would feel proud and nostalgic upon looking back.
Originally published at medium.com